Saturday, May 15, 2010

Blog 141: Sticks, Stones, & Sandbags

Sandbagging an Oil Slick

A National Guard helicopter drops sandbags to fill a breach in the beach just west of Grand Isle, La. Officials hope to protect the fragile marshland from an approaching oil slick. Photo: Ted Jackson-AP

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Like Father, Like Son?

In my guitar picking years I very much admired the finger picking styles of first Josh White, then as I got further into real folk music, the guitar styles of the likes of Libba Cotton, Mance Lipscomb, and most especially the intricate finger picking of Mississippi John Hurt.

It seemed to me their distinctive picking styles made the guitar a fuller, more complex and complete instrument, offering not only rhythmic chording for the song, but also a hypnotically compelling bass pattern, against which complex treble patterns are rendered.

Plus the styles led to more interaction between singer and guitar, as the instrument would frequently take over mid line from the singer, complimenting his mood, or laughing at him as he is crying out his pain.

Mississippi John Hurt first surfaced at about the same time as the Carter Family of country music fame, the late twenties and early thirties. Then many years went by before he again resurfaced, having been rediscovered living comfortably in the Mississippi town of Avalon, which he had sung about during his early recording years. He was rediscovered just in time for the great folk music revival of the mid-sixties. Like the others I mentioned above, Mississippi John Hurt was re-recorded in full fidelity and got to perform in several Folk Festivals, including the grand daddy of all folk festivals, the Newport Festival.

My son, Joel Alan Badeaux, who these days mixes psychiatry with equal helpings of music as Joe Bad X, has a new video out. It features one of one of Mississippi John Hurt’s finest songs, Payday. Joel, who was born months after Hurt’s death, didn’t have the privilege of overlapping his life with that of Hurt’s, but he has been a faithful student of Hurt’s unique guitar style, as is quite evident in the throbbing guitar bass pattern which meters his performance of Payday. Also, as with his inspiration, Joel frequently lets his guitar take over the singing for him.

In this day and age of the YouTube video, and the ease with which its data can be embedded onto our websites, we at the Little Eddy Blog take great pleasure in bringing you Joel’s latest video, his cover of Mississippi John Hurt’s Payday. As you who click on the arrow below are due to find out, Hurt’s groundbreaking guitar style is in good hands, or fingers, as it were.

What a world this is, where the tools for recording your own music are abundant and within the means of most anybody wishing to use them. Even video cameras are cheap, and tools for crafting YouTube videos and then uploading them, are easily within most anyone’s reach.

However, I should point out that although Joel’s first video, the Public Enemy cover, “You’re Gonna Get Yours” was completely self produced, his new one, Payday, was produced and realized by a professional videographer, leaving the important things, the music and the performance, to Joel. The video was directed by David C. Snyder and co-produced by David C. Snyder and Jess B. Rankin for Command Pictures and SLAMjamz Records.

As an ironic footnote to Joel’s story, he is scheduled to graduate his residency in June, and plans to practice Psychiatry in Arizona, which is probably an excellent decision, for after the Arizona governor signed the nation’s first law making racial profiling a way of life, and the rest of the nation begins to cut its ties and boycotts the state, the few people left are going to need a whopping amount of psychiatry. And a lament about Payday sounds like it just might be signaling a new way of life. Perhaps the singer can tote the governor back to her mama by next payday. §

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Bill Mayer FLASH – America Needs Jobs


While surfing for embed data that would take you to Joe Bad X 5’s site, we came across this delightful video by Bill Mayer, which we could not resist bringing you. This shows you why it sometimes pay to check out L. E.’s Blog more than once during the week.

Returning the Wild to the Wild

Charlie Pelizza and Sharon Taylor of the U.S.Fish and Wildlife Service return a black gannet to the Gulf of Mexico near Vero Beach, Fla. Photo: Rick Silva-AP

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President Obama’s Job Rating Okay With Us

There seems to be a roiling dissatisfaction on the part of a certain segment of the U.S. electorate over the job performance of President Barack Obama. Tea Party types seem to twisted their underwear over the present level of our taxes, even though thanks to Obama’s new tax roll back, we are currently paying taxes equal to the 1950’s. Tea Partyiers also seemed to have joined right wingers om lamenting the President’s foreign policy which tends to be apologetic for U. S. excesses during the Bush/Cheney years. Myself, I am happy that our president is apologizing for the many overreaches of Bush/Cheney, and is conducting a foreign policy which listens to others as well as dictates to them. It’s about damned time, as the saying goes.

One of the more influential things a president can do is to give the commencement address at one of our various institutions of higher learning. And who more capable inspiring the next generation of academics than that most unlikely victor of the 2008 elections, your president and ours, Barack Obama. However, Obama did attempt to steer today’s generation away from Apple’s iPhones, iPods, and iPads, and Microsoft’s XBoxes and Sony’s Play Stations, much to the horror of today’s technologically savy. The president admits not having the skills to properly work any of the above, this from the first President which would not allow himself to be separated from his Beloved Blackberry.

Below is Barack Obama’s commencement address to the graduating class at Hampton University. §

An Apple a Day . . .

The technology company which has made secrecy a Way of Life, formerly known as Apple computers, now simply Apple, Inc., has an entire industry of websites bringing rumors about its products to the web. And people do have lots of feelings about the company, and its partners. One of the most compelling come from would-be iPhone owners who cannot stand AT&T and hope for their carrier of choice, Verizon, making a deal with Apple.

The latest rumor spreader is gadget blog CrunchGear, one of whose writer’s, John Biggs, has written that an agency called Landor Associates “is working on an advertising campaign” for a Verizon upcoming iPhone release. According to CrunchGear Ladnor has been working on Verizon branding since 2007 and is, according to a tipster, now hard at work preparing for the iPhone HD launch. The Verizon team there is led by Brad Scott.

Is there a grain of truth in the rumor? That’s the beauty of the entire ecosystem that lives off of Apple. It really doesn’t seem to matter whether you get it right all, or even most of the time. Nobody’s keeping score. Just feed the rumor mill with regularity, preferably spreading rumors that people want to read, and some anonymous tipster will start feeding you rumors too. Or, even if they don’t, you can always say they are, and nobody’s going to call you on it.

As for the rumor of the iPhone coming to Verizon, who knows? Probably it will eventually, if and when AT&T’s exclusive contract runs out. Apple, whose dedication is to furnish as large a segment of the world’s population as possible with an iPhone, will certainly be amenable to broadening their distribution base once contractual obligations have run their course. As for CrunchGear’s prediction on the matter: “Because Landor focuses a bit more on branding – they, for example, created the dual-B logo for Blackberry – don’t expect TBWA, Apple’s current iPhone agency, to get pushed out when it comes to TV advertisements.”

”More important, however, this rumor very nearly confirms a Verizon launch of the iPhone at the end of the summer. More information as we get it.” TechCrunch §

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Two Eyes on the World

A boreal owl looks out from a tree hollow near Minsk, Belarus. Photo: Vasily Fedosenko-Reuters
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YouTube Quests Lead I-Know-Not-Where

Next up comes a story of a strange quest. Last week I came across a neat dance video featuring seven or so seven year olds. I made note of the embed data to include it on this week’s Little Eddy. But when I got around to calling it up, YouTube announced that it had gone private, and the embed data would no longer play. What was the problem? You’ve got me, it was as charming a dance video as I have seen of that age group. And I had even seen parts of it on the msnbc cable channel. But the video would no longer play for me.

As usual Google offered some other material, which I kept trying out until I ran into the video below. If you are a Conan O’Brien fan you will eat this video alive. Even if you are not Conan literate, but are merely an interested observer of the media, I think you will enjoy this video. It is sponsored by Google and YouTube, and offers the full visit by Conan to the Google campus during his exile from being funny.

To see the video in more of a relevant light I previewed it reading Lloyd Grove’s article in the Daily Beast on Saturday Night Live’s creator, Lorne Michaels. Of the O’Brien, Leno incident, Michaels’ reveals:

“The whole thing just makes me sad,” says Michaels, who was advising NBC/Universal Chief Executive Jeff Zucker through much of the unpleasantness. “The network was trying to make an orderly transition because of all the chaos of the Letterman-Leno thing, and they planned it five years in advance, and I don’t think Jay felt like he was ready to go. From what I gather, he got a big offer from ABC which would’ve been against Conan and Letterman. So everything made sense when the decision was made. The network did not want him coming against Conan. You know, there was no grand Machiavellian scheme. My experience with the network is that nothing is that well organized.”

He’s noncommittal about O’Brien’s decision to leave broadcast television for the cable network TBS. “I think the whole landscape will change again,” he says. “I think he’s opposite Jon Stewart, and I think that’s going to be an interesting battle to watch.”

Yet Michaels passionately defends NBC management. “Through the early days of SNL, through that last week of Conan, I can’t think of another corporate culture in which all of that could’ve happened,” he says. “I cannot imagine someone knocking the company the way Conan went after the people at NBC and everything else; I cannot imagine that at Disney. I definitely cannot imagine it at Fox. There has just been a level of creative freedom…I’ve worked there for most of my life, and things go wrong and occasionally things go right, but it has always been an incredibly, oddly tolerant culture—or else Saturday Night Live never would’ve been allowed on there.”

And here, for the amusement of brainy Google engineers, is Conan O’Brien’s side of the story:

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An Icon Passes

My tenure as managing editor of Sing Out! The Folksong Magazine was littered by the cover of issue after issue announcing the passing of yet another folk singer. Some of these were young, and were due to accidents or drug overdoses or an occasional suicide. Most were elderly songsters whose deaths qualified as being from natural causes. I was reminded of this while writing the introduction to my son Joel’s cover of Mississippi John Hurt’s Payday.

Unfortunately, deaths are not relegated to the folk music community. This past week saw the passing of Lena Horne, who with her beauty and her singing talent did more towards opening up the entertainment business to black people than just about anyone. I first ran into Ms Horne’s singing on the NBC program, the Chamber Music Society of Lower Basin Street. It was presented as a spoof of a classical music program drowning in self-seriousness. In addition to Ms. Horne, the program also introduced Dinah Shore to the world, and the music was played by the Dixieland stylings of Henry Levine and his band, and Paul Lavalle’s woodwind stylings.

Last week Lena Horne, who went on to make meaningful inroads to opening up movies to blacks, died at the age of 92, We feel the photo below captures the essence of her spirit as well as anything we’ve seen. Thank you, L. H., for passing our way and leaving us generous helpings of your talent along the way. You done good, and we will miss you.


The Incomparable Lena Horne Leaves Us

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Speaking of leaving, that magic time seems to have rolled around again. Time to turn in our word processor and video player, pack our digital bags and trot off into the sunset. I find it fun putting each week’s blog together, but this week’s was especially fun as I got to bring you my son Joel’s latest video. In my guitar picking days I slaved many an hour getting my fingers to run a bass pattern while improvising a treble line, and I am proud to note how conscientiously Joel has studied and disciplined himself to continue the Mississippi John Hurt tradition of guitar picking.

We post Saturday morning’s along with our breakfast, and it stays up all week so you can have continuous access to it. And simply by scrolling down you have access to the preceding four weeks posts. Plus all of our posts, since our blog’s inception, are available by date and title to the right of our blog.

We hope you can come back again next week. Meantime, hang in there, and everybody consider opening your hearts and pocketbooks and donate to our fund to furnish genuine iPhones, iPods and iPads to the children of the Gates’ and Ballmer families of Redmond, Wash. We know of not a single reason why the children from two of our nation’s wealthiest families should be deprived of knowing the feel and sound of real quality for one minute more. Bye now!

The Real Little Eddy §

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